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Dear Donna
I found your statement interesting ..." the principal doesn't think he can insist 
on library books
to be returned"  and while I'm not interested in starting a debate about whether he 
can or cannot, I
think you need to keep him in the loop by showing him how much money has been saved 
by your not
having to replace 'lost' books because of your actions.  Like it or not, everything 
is coming down
to the economic position and so this is something they need to be aware of.

One of the most powerful strategies I used when I had a 
less-than-supportive-principal was to count
the total number of outstanding books, and I pulled that same number off the 
shelves and stacked
them up on the table at our weekly staff meeting (primary school of 450 students).  
Making a visual
statement like that which included a large sign of how much it represented and how 
much of the
following year's budget was already committed to replacing the titles at the 
expense of new stuff
certainly had an impact.  After the staff meeting, I took the books back to the 
library and left the
pile on prominent display with a notice to the effect that for every missing book 
returned, one
would be taken off the pile and returned to the shelf.  The 'game' was to have 
every book off that
pile, and the person returning a missing book had the pleasure of reshelving the 
one fro the pile.
It worked!

Maybe in a high school you could have a thermometer-type target with the value of 
the missing books
marked.  My imagination says to give each book an average value of say $25.00 (use 
an appropriate
figure) and have  a post-it note strip for each $25.00.  When a book is returned, 
that post-it note
strip is removed with the idea of the target going down to zero.  Have a notice 
that says "This is
what we could have spent on new resources but now we need to spend it on replacing 
the books staff
and students have not returned."  Visual reinforcements mean more than words that 
hang in the air
for a few seconds and are lost as soon as something else is said.  And it saves 
your nagging which
tires you and which the kids ignore.


Barbara Braxton
Teacher Librarian

Together we learn from each other 

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